A young woman saw a mystery tiny spot on her head grow to the size of a golf ball - and discovered it was a rare cancer with only 30 cases in the world. Rhianna Thomas, 24, was told by three different doctors it was just a harmless lump on her scalp. But over the next seven months it grew to the size of a golf ball.
Surgeons finally operated after Rhianna was told it was caused by a cluster of blood cells growing under her scalp. But when she returned to have the stitches out in August she was given the earth-shattering news that she had the rare bone cancer.
Still smiling: Rhianna, pictured with her mother Diane, said the most important thing to her was keeping her sense of humour
The Topshop assistant from Cardiff, South Wales, first noticed the spot last Christmas. She said: 'I was washing my hair and I felt a small spot. At first I didn't think much about it but as the weeks passed I realised it was getting bigger and bigger. 'It wasn't painful just a big soft squidgy lump on my head. Soon it was the size of a golf ball. The doctors really didn't think it was anything to worry about - just a simple cyst to be removed.' It was only when Rhianna had an operation at Coventry University Hospital to remove it that doctors discovered it was the very rare bone cancer. 'I was told it had come back as cancerous - a rare form of Sarcoma, with only 25 to 30 cases in the world,' she wrote on her blog.
Rhianna Thomas pictured before her operation
Sarcomas are rare cancers that develop in the supporting or connective tissues of the body such as muscle, bone, nerves, cartilage, blood vessels and fat. Rhianna underwent a life-saving operation to remove any remaining cancer cells, which involved a skin graft from her leg. Rhianna said: 'I couldn't take it in because it was such a huge shock. Not knowing what was going to happen was pretty scary. I had to have part of my head shaved. I loved my hair and would spend hours straightening and going to the hairdressers having it coloured. But I knew losing my hair was the least of my worries. After the operation my head was bandaged up for a week so I couldn't see it. Thankfully the operation was successful and all the cancer was removed and the doctors able to obtain a clear margin around where the cancer had been.'
But the fashion-marketing graduate has refused to stop smiling. She has even managed to switch jobs and now works for George, the fashion label of the Asda supermarket. She said: 'On the bright side I'm saving time not having to do my hair each morning and I haven't had any bad hair days. Hats have become my new best friend and I have at least 15 different ones. I am saving a fortune on going to the hairdressers too! I might invest in a blonde wig soon but for the moment the hats are keeping my head warm.'
Rhianna pictured after her operation. She is about to start chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions
Rhianna is about to start chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions but doctors say her prognosis is good. A side effect of the cancer treatment can be infertility and Rhianna has been given £3,000 NHS funding to freeze nine of her eggs. She said: 'I do want children in the future and I joke that if Olly Murs is around please feel free to come and donate! The most important thing to me is keeping my sense of humour. I try to laugh a lot and stay positive. I am looking forward to Christmas and hopefully I will have a few new hats. I want to travel when my treatment is over and go to America. My cancer has put everything into perspective and makes me realise that I have to live for today.'
Rhianna said her father Gareth has inspired her, 58, who have successfully battled throat cancer. Rhianna's mother Diane, 54, has put her job and life on hold to look after her at her new flat in Birmingham, close to Queen Elizabeth hospital where she is having her treatment. She said: 'I wanted a flat mate but I never expected it to be my mum. She's been brilliant taking me back and for to all my hospital appointments I've started calling her Florence after Florence Nightingale.'
Rhianna has started a blog about her cancer fight to keep family and friends up to date with her progress. She said: 'The feedback from it has been incredible, with many saying how inspirational and brave I am. 'If I can inspire even just one person to put lives 'stresses' into perspective, then I'll be pleased. I'm the sort of person that once I get over the initial shock of something I just get on with it.'
Source: Daily Mail UK